A Former NHLer’s Take on Youth Hockey

Former NHL star Ray Ferraro was asked to talk to parents of a  club that was going through a tough time, with parent expectations at an all-time high.

This is what Ferraro told the parents.

– Minor hockey is out of control in terms of Parents chasing the dream for their kids instead of kids deciding on their own how passionate they are for it and how bad they want it.

– In the last 10 years only 21 kids who either played at NSWC or BWC have appeared in at least ONE NHL regular season game. Point is if your banking on your son collecting an NHL pay cheque to solidify his and yours financial future you seriously need to stop and come up with a new plan and now.

– The odds of going pro are extremely low but the odds of having to find a career and a job to pay bills and be a husband and father are extremely high and it’s not dictated by if you played AAA hockey

– Parents need to enjoy the ride while you have it … your son’s minor hockey days end too quickly and often times people end up regretting what they did not know then and what they ending up missing because they were focused on everything but their kid having fun

– As a parent who devotes time and money to your son, the only right you have to ask is they give it their best … not how much ice time they get, if they play on the PP, who is their winger or D partner

– Don’t pay for power skating, dryland training, skill development and expect your son to score 50 goals, if you decide to invest in extras do it because your son asked for it and wants to improve and has a smile on his face each and every time … too many parents decide what they want their kids to do instead of their kids asking to do it.

– 12 month hockey is wrong … organized skills sessions, tryouts, spring hockey is too much and too taxing … kids can shoot pucks, stick handle, play street hockey but they need out of the mental insanity of a hockey rink and need to be engaged in something other than hockey … the time away reinforces the passion to want it

– Coaches are coaches we all know the game and think this should be done a certain way … how come we never tell our kids math teacher how to teach calculus but we think as parents we have the right to tell a hockey coach how much ice time and with whom and when our kids should play.

– When you evaluate your kids season, never base it on how many banners they won, what provincial they won, what tourneys they went to and won … ask yourself what improved from September to April, what did he learn or improve upon including non-hockey stuff … evaluate the season besides wins and losses but gains and improvements.

– I have a son who is going through the rigors of pro hockey in the AHL. Hockey is a tough racket. Growing up, my dad never talked to me after a game or practice, I did that with my kids. Just let them play, learn and develop. Pressure is high enough, no need to make it worse.


16 Responses to “A Former NHLer’s Take on Youth Hockey”

  1. Good advice for all youth sports.

  2. I was not an in crowd kid. Never was good at baseball or football or basketball. the town sports. Then in the fifth grade I started to play hockey. The late Mr. Kelly started the team the year before . Every kid who showed up got on the team. Every line played in turn. I have no memory of winning or losing until I was 14. My bestest pals were hockey players. No finer mates could I have asked for. I had other Coaches but I own an eternal debt to that quiet supportive insurance salesman in a small small town in upstate NY. He gave me the opportunity to the learn the joy of mastering a sport, the value of team work, you learn by listening and watching otehres and that if you never quit you stand the chance of winning! It was not about the parents it was about the kids.

  3. I am a former Trail girl born and raised, and spent many a winter at the rink watching the Trail Smoiker Eaters my cousin Harry Smith was one of the team members who beat Russia in 1961 I am so proud of what you wrote Mr. Ferraro you summed it up beautifully, and with a message that I willl be so pleased to pass on to my grandson who now plays midget hocket, I hope all parents taek to heart what you wrote in regards to kids hockey hooray for you I sure hope your message hits home to some of the hockey parents I have heard complaining about the games etc I am proud to share this page with you as a Trailite, and a great admirer of you and your family give yourself a huge pat on the back for putting the kids ahead of the amitions of some of their parents Hats off to youWith deep Respect and Admiration Sandra Ludlow

  4. I don’t beleive that any person who has played hockey and is a parent would embarrass himself by making such conflicting and incorrect statements. After reading this article it would appear that someone simply inserted a relative name to their own incompetent opinions hoping to indicate truth or fact behind them.

  5. Excellent! As a high school athletic director, I talk about all of these items every chance I get – especially sharing the percentages of high school athletes who get to play college sports. Great comments; great post. Continue to spread the word!


  6. dont forget your children are smart enouhp to now if they can play whit the elite team or not ,push them or not they are not going to be better my father was never pushing me in hockey he would encorage me but that was it and i realy like it and i did the same whit my kid
    keep it as a game kids game simpley

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